Guest speaker addresses economic development in valley

Gail Scott, Destination Osoyoos spokesperson, will be providing information about improving the economy of a resort municipality.

Boosting tourism numbers during the Columbia Valley’s shoulder season could improve the local economy for some.


Gail Scott, managing director and regional economic development specialist at Destination Osoyoos, will be providing information to the community about improving the economy of a resort municipality at a 1 p.m. luncheon on Monday, April 11th in the Lions’ Hall at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC). Her focus will be on campaigns to attract travellers to the Columbia Valley during its shoulder season.


“I had the opportunity to meet with some of your local residents (Windermere Lakeside Bed and Breakfast owners Rod and Christine Turnbull) and business owners,” she explained. “We got talking about how Osoyoos has grown its economy from four months into a nine-to-10 month community — and because we’re a resort municipality, we’re very similar to the Invermere and Radium area, which is also a resort municipality. We got into the discussion of how it’s possible to grow it from four months to 10 months.”


She will inform participants at the luncheon about the methods she used to develop the community of Osoyoos from a four-month community into a 10-month community.


In addition, Scott will be introducing the Snowbird Attraction campaign she developed with the Destination Osoyoos team in 2014 to drive tourism numbers to the Okanagan during the community’s shoulder season — which ultimately generated a 35 per cent increase to the area during the winter.


“We targeted the coldest postal codes in Canada,” she explained, adding that there has been an increase of roughly 2,000 visitors to the area during the shoulder season as a result.


Rod Turnbull, who operates the Windermere Lakeside Bed and Breakfast with Christine Turnbull and also serves on the Columbia Valley tourism marketing board and as a director of the CVCC, helped orchestrate a luncheon featuring Scott.


“It was one of those fluke encounters where we went into the Osoyoos tourism office… and we got talking to this lady, then two hours later we came out,” Turnbull said about his first chance encounter with Scott.


He is encouraging anybody and everybody in the Columbia Valley to attend Scott’s presentation.


“She’s speaking to anybody that wants to listen,” said Turnbull. “The CVCC, tourism and marketing, the hotel operators, restaurateurs — anybody who would like to see this (community) become a 10-month town because it can’t be done by the chamber alone. It’s going to require a buy-in from all of the businesses.”


Turnbull indicated that there were no vacant hotel rooms in the Osoyoos valley in late January and is eager to see the Columbia Valley community embrace a similar approach to improve its economy.


“Every single hotel had no vacancy,” he added, noting some hotels don’t even book winter reservations until late August. “Then, they send out a blanket email and it’s first come, first serve… (to do the same thing here) it’s going to require a total buy-in from the community.”


For more information about the presentation, please contact Kathy Tyson at the CVCC at 250-342-2844 or email